She frowned as she watched the King of Uruk arm in arm with the beautiful stranger who had defied him. The King was two-thirds god, and it showed in the golden perfection of his form. Even she, who loved her husband, recognized that the King was the most beautiful and handsomest of men. But she feared his eyes, a coruscating rainbow of colors dominated by crimson, with pupils that dilated like those of a snake.

The king oppressed his people and they could do naught but obey his cruel whims. Had not her rescuer come, she too would have been forced to submit to his touch, something she did not desire in the least. Her father had arranged her marriage with her husband, a noble and gentle blacksmith who had treated her with kindness and sweetness since the day they had met, and she wanted to man other than her husband to touch her.

For the king to force so many brides to endure the taking of their maidenhead, and then to simply stop based on the words of the stranger... for the king to declare the stranger his friend and merely walk away from what he had nearly done to her...!

"Ah, Sandushumgala, truly your father named you well! You look as fierce as your namesake!"

She frowned. "That is not funny, my husband."

"I say only what I see, and to me, you look as fierce as your namesake. My wife, should you not be relieved?"

"I cannot be relieved when our king is so cruel! We are his subjects and we must quietly suffer his whims for none of us can stand against him! Do we not wish to be ruled well?"

Her husband frowned at her in silence for a time. "My wife, I think you are mistaken. The king is the king, chosen by Enlil to rule over us all. Though he can sometimes be cruel, he is still two-thirds god. He could easily discard the law, but he does not. The laws he set down, that his father set down, all of them, he keeps. Is not a king who keeps the law he set the perfect king?"

Sandushumgala scowled. Should there not be something more than that? Some ideal that a king should pursue as he ruled his people? She was the daughter of a scholar-priest in service to the god Enki, and she herself was a musician. She knew to read and to sing the songs in praise of the gods. While she knew more of their lore than her husband, he had an unlearned wisdom that even the priests would envy. Perhaps he was right and she was mistaken, but it did not feel just that the king should be a tyrant.

Finally, she smiled, willing to forgo the argument for domestic peace. "Perhaps, my husband."

Even as they walked to their marital chamber hand in hand, Sandushumgala thought. She did not know if she was right or wrong, but she would think about it. Surely an answer would occur to her eventually.